Nobody willingly chooses a life of perpetual struggles but sometimes destiny has something else in store for us. Life is not easy, especially if you are a differently abled person in Bangladesh. Although the government is doing much for people in this sector, society is yet very quiet and negligent about their rights. Not only do people who are differently abled need to overcome their personal and physical challenges, they have to strive harder to belong here and to be accepted by this society as a complete human being. They are devoid of many rights and a lot of their contribution goes unnoticed. Many shopping malls, colleges and other public places do not have the necessary infrastructure for disabled people. However, disability is not a limitation and many people with indomitable spirits have proven the verity. We often tend to forget the outstanding contributions of differently abled women. These women working at the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh (NHRCB) have fully channeled their powers and energies for the betterment of humanity despite their differences and are inspirations for thousands of such other men and women out there:
Tultul, A Torchbearer ForOther Women
Farjana Najneen Tultul cannot see but she is showing others the path to enlightenment with her brilliant contribution to society. She is the Assistant Director (Social Service and Counseling) at NHRCB. “I joined in 2015. At the beginning, my work was to listen to the complaints we receive as well as provide counseling to the victims at NHRCB. Now I have to handle the complaints received from Khulna and Barisal divisions. Everyone was pleased with my sincerity and later on, I received additional responsibilities.” She added, “I am also the member secretary of the thematic committee on Persons with Disability and Autism. Recently the government has passed a national action plan for persons with disability.”
Usha, A Woman With
Every day, Rounak Jahan Usha, Executive Officer of Call Centre, NHRCB, travels from her hostel in Mirpur to her workplace in Karwan Bazar. However, what sets her apart from the rest is her disability to walk and special capability to overcome every obstacle on her way during this long journey to and from work every day. “I fell from the stairs and got a spinal injury. Since then I lost my ability to walk. My life completely changed. People in Bangladesh are yet not thoughtful enough for us. We have problems in traveling and in so many things. I often use rickshaw or CNG and there is usually nobody to help me there. It’s impossible to get on buses for us. It’s also hard to find another woman around who could help me get on and down from the rickshaw. However, I never gave up.” Usha’s family lives in Jhenaidah. Everyone became very proud of her when she got the job at NHRCB. This is my first job and I was overjoyed. She joined in June 2018. “The Chairman, Kazi Reazul Hoque, wanted to make a call centre that would be an employment opportunity for disabled women. We are very grateful to him and NHRCB. Shortly after we joined, they made accessible washrooms for people with disability here at our workplace.”
Mita Inspiring ChangeJust like Usha, Mita Khatun joined NHRCB on June 1, 2018 as the Executive Officer of the call centre. “This is my first job as well. I got to know they were hiring through ‘Women With Disabilities Development and Foundation (WDDF)’. Although I had applied in many places before, I was denied only for my disability. People frowned at how I would be able to do my works. All I needed was a chance to prove myself and I finally got it when I was selected for this post here. It feels great to be here. Everyone is very supportive.” Mita said that she feels good about the fact that she will no longer be a burden on anyone. “When I was unemployed, I used to feel very upset. But now I feel happy that I am being able to serve humanity.” She also faced a lot of challenges in pursuing her studies but she never gave up. Mita hopes to prepare for BCS in the near future besides keeping up with her job here. She advises everyone to believe in themselves and to be brave. She shared, “Anything is possible if you are determined.”
Chaity Rising Above Stereotypes
Many people have the body of a man and the soul of a woman (and vice versa), yet our society does not want to recognize such conflicts. In fact, there is a taboo in even talking about such matters. Tanisha Yeasmin Chaity is a transgender who had defied the norms to be what she really yearned to be in her life- a woman. “Everyone disagreed and even despised me. My own family went against me at first though they support me a little now. People mock me. I am sometimes denied of my rights. Most people fail to understand this weeping soul. Policies are made for indigenous people, disabled people and other groups but nobody thinks about us. Since there is no framework or policy to hire me, the Chairman had hired me in a daily basis and I am extremely grateful to him for that. It was always my dream to work in a government agency. Now, it is a part of my resume and will remain a part of my life no matter where I go. History has been created. Perhaps more people will now think about us, focus on our rights and create policies for us so that we too can work for the betterment of the society. We want to work. When people see hijra (hermaphrodite) or transgender walking by, it is immediately assumed that they will start begging. Nobody wants to beg on the roads. Nobody wants to be a burden.” Chaity graduated from Bangladesh Open University (BOU).
All the four talented ladies have proven with their knowledge, skill and relentless efforts that differently abled people are just like one of us, only facing greater challenges than us all. Therefore, it is an utmost duty of us all to create an amicable environment for such people to flourish and fully utilize their talents to contribute to society. Given the right opportunities, they too can keep up with this fast and competent world. Many differently abled people may have a certain disability. Yet, we cannot forget that their significance is beyond any disability. Their brain is still active, they may be intellectually superior to many of us, they may possess a certain talent most do not normally have or they might have some forte in a certain field. It is the duty of both the government and the society to create opportunities to help these people thrive.
The writer is a journalist